Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Leigh Anne Tuohy on the Brown Family
Leigh Anne Tuohy
Jan 29, 2011 10:00 PM ET
by Leigh Anne Tuohy
This week we traveled to Wellman, Texas to surprise the Brown family. You know, the Brown’s are really an amazing family — Jeanne, Johnny Mac and their daughter Katrina. They absolutely have had one of the most tragic situations, losing their child Alex to a texting while driving accident. They have been able to look beyond their own personal grief and realize that the message is more impactful than their grief. As a mother I can tell you that there’s nothing in the world I can imagine worse than losing a child. The fact that they lost a child and they were immediately able to take a message and move forward with it just testifies to the integrity and the character of this family.
Every day when they talk about this it just rips their heart apart knowing that they’re telling the story over, and over, and over. I would want to put it behind me and move on. Yet they continually bring it up and look at her car in an effort to raise awareness and help other people not have to go through what they’ve suffered. That just goes to show you the kind of people that they are because they don’t want any other family to experience what they’ve experienced.
You hear the message of “no texting while driving” and you think. “Wow, that’s for teenagers,” but it’s really not. It is for everyone and we all need to be aware of it. I came to Wellman, Texas, texting while driving. I did it all the time. I sat here and looked at this situation, and I realized how dangerous it really, really was. I would do it with my kids in the car. That’s horrible.
So I took the pledge “No texting while driving.” I am wearing my RAB thumb band that stands for “Remember Alex Brown.” Every time I go to pick up my phone, I hope that this little orange band reminds me “Do not text while you drive.” We cannot give enough of these out. If you don’t have one, get your thumb band. Take the pledge. Don’t text and drive. It is so dangerous.
This week we were able to go in and give a family a beautiful home so they can continue on their powerful mission. The exterior of the home has a very Southwest feel to it, so everything that we did we made sure kind of blended with that Southwestern style. All the landscaping is cactuses and it’s the tumbleweeds kind of look. We went with the sandy rock in the flowerbeds. So it’s all very friendly to that Southwestern look. The planter out front has the Mexican tiles. Just the entire concept really blended well and kind of keeps with the Wellman, Texas style. Really helping us pull everything together for this project were the folks for Palm Harbor Homes and hundreds of community volunteers. I’m constantly amazed by how much everyone really pulls together to make this possible.
This week kind of makes you look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “Am I doing enough? Am I doing what I need to do? Is there an area I can make a difference?” I think that people should look at the Brown family and know that there is something all of us can do. You may not be able to do something at the magnitude the Brown family has done, but there is something you can do. You can look at your life and go, there has got to be a message I can take forward. I need to try to make a difference in people’s lives in a greater way, and that certainly is a lesson that I’ve taken away from spending time with the Brown family this week.